back before the Ultimate line was even a rumor, Brian Bendis was
slated to write both Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man.
He passed then, but is back on now, announcing over the weekend
that he'll remain on Ultimate X-Men for at least a year after
his initially six-issue run. Newsarama caught up with him to talk
about this as well as his other Marvel projects.
The new gig
will keep Bendis and artist David Finch on the title for at least
a year, allowing something that can be hard to come by in today's
market (aside from Bendis' other titles, unsurprisingly) - creative
consistency. Both Bendis and Finch are planning for a year with
no fill-ins on either's part.
Setting the stage a little, and going back a ways - you were originally
going to write both Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man
from their start. Why did you turn down the X-Men gig, ultimately?
I just wasn't ready yet. I didn't feel it, and didn't hear the voices.
I heard the Ultimate Spider-Man voices, I know I sound like
a freak, but writers or musicians will know what I mean. You just
hear the voices talking to each other. I was very excited about
Ultimate X-Men but I didn't have it yet, group books are
specialties - look at [Mark] Millar and [Geoff] Johns, it's a specialty.
I needed more time in the field of mainstream comics. Maybe I could
have slid by, but I didn't want to, I wanted to feel it.
Speaking of the feelings then, what changed for you in the intervening
time that made you either want to, or feel comfortable enough to
take over the book?
I think I'm a better writer. Time and practice has to have some
effect, and Mark Millar laid the tracks. Now, I have a very clear
vision of the themes of all the Ultimate books, in part thanks to
Mark and Bill [Jemas] and Ralph [Macchio, editor].
So then, was your upcoming run on the title a trial run to see how
you'd like it in regards to taking to over monthly?
No, no. It was an arc; it was a chance to try something. I had no
intention of staying past the arc. I wasn't fibbing.
I was doing
six and leaving. But David Finch started kicking ass, and then Dave
Stewart started kicking ass which I think a lot of people have seen
this week in the preview art Marvel is showing. Its very hard to
leave when a book is working out as well as this is.
And my "boo-hoo"
problem in life is that this is something I am overly blessed with;
I have this with Maleev, Oeming, Bagley, Gaydos, Hollingsworth and
Pentazis. My happy meal cup runneth over to exclaim and overused
cliché, but it is. To have this again with such a different style,
I just couldn't leave.
But most importantly,
I started writing down all these stories and character threads.
Once that starts flowing…and then, someone I am a huge fan of and
a very close friend of mine, someone insanely perfect for the gig,
someone that no one will even guess, said he would come on board
after I was done, so I could now build this run and make a solid
bridge for the next guy, next year.
The whole thing
became very attractive on numerous levels.
So what you
are going to get is a solid year or so of David Finch and I, no
breaks, no fill ins, just a solid run, then… a big surprise replacement
that I am thrilled about.
Fair enough. With Ultimate Spider-Man, you nailed the dynamic
right out of the gate, capturing the teen angst and everything else
that was needed for the book. What's your view of the dynamic of
the Ultimate X-Men?
It will build on Mark's. It won't contradict him other than my politics
are a just a smidge less maniacal than his, and by smidge I mean
a lot less maniacal. But what I lack in maniacal I make up
for in paranoia. My stories, though surprisingly action packed,
will have real character moments. I think a lot of the relationships
need evaluation and exploration and that is what I love to do more
That said, will your run be that different from Mark's?
I'll let the readers decide. But my respect for mark is clear.
Okay then, stream of consciousness time - just give a few words
that sum up your view of each: Professor Xavier
Man, that bald head is sexy, and is it me or is he the sexiest?
Think he is voted most likely to have skeletons in the closet.
Most likely to be the most talked about by readers in about six
Most need of serious, serious, serious redemption.
Most likely to be not what he seems.
Most likely to have a secret life.
Most likely to not have much to do in my first arc.
My favorite x-men to write but my least favorite to read.
Smarter than me, makes him a challenge to write.
Mark took care of him. I think we'll leave it at that.
You answered a lot of this in the Magneto question, but still, with
the Ultimate team, you've got the "dream team" of X-Men here. Mark
did it well, adding his own twist to stories from the mainline continuity,
but how do you plan on writing stories that aren't just "if I was
Chris Claremont, I woulda done it this way…"?
If I was Chris Claremont? Could you imagine the amount of balloons
on a page if I was Chris Claremont, you wouldn't even need an artist,
it would be all balloons.
like Daredevil or Ultimate Spider-Man, you embrace
the past but you run forward. I try not to over analyze it. But
I've already read Chris' amazing X-men stories. I will honor that
important time in comics by moving forward with the concepts, which
I think is what we do in Ultimate Spider-Man.
With that in mind then, Mark has kept the heat on with the X-Men
fighting Magneto and the Brotherhood as a constant presence. Will
you be continuing in that vein, or will your Ultimate X-Men
take a different tact?
I don't want to give the ending of Mark's run away, so no comment.
Generally speaking though, how different is writing Ultimate
X-Men from writing Ultimate Spider-Man?
The tone, the character dynamics, everything, its as different as
it is to write Alias and Ultimate Spider-Man.
Okay then, tease gently - what's coming in your first arc?
Well, I see online that some people think that I am cramming a team
up story into x-men but that's not it. Although Spidey and a couple
of other Marvel characters do involve themselves in the story, this
is a Wolverine story. Wolverine is the most damaged of the group
as regular readers know and this is a not so easy redemption story.
The X-Men are front and center in the story, but I don't want to
give too much away.
we will start an arc called "New Mutants" where we will introduce
Ultimate versions of some classic characters and a couple of new
characters and how the mutant world deals with different types.
All that wrapped around some surprising relationship shifts in the
core group of characters.
Moving over to Ultimate Spider-Man, and speaking of team
ups - the women of the X-Men appear in issue #43. Now - is that
a team-up story?
Yes, the X-ladies appear in Ultimate Spider-Man for what
is definitely a team up. But its an awkward teen social situation/
Marvel team up. All this unrelated to the events of Spidey in Ultimate-X-Men.
You've hit all the big guns in Ultimate Spider-Man so far
in regards to villains, and have started creating new. Who'll be
the villains of the future? More familiar faces, or more new, or
Well, how about the Black Cat in issue #50? You know all that sexual
tension with the Black Cat and Spidey, how about if one of them
is fifteen and the other doesn't know it?
Ho-kay. Again, let's just do stream of consciousness in regards
to Ultimate Spider-Man - teases and tidbits?
Lots of MJ, lots of Spidey vs. the world, lots of genetic activity
that brings on a couple of shockers over the year, more Flash, more
Kong, more Gwen. Aunt May cracks. Clones. Ultimate clones. Universe
cross over clones.
Um - let's just move away from that for now and touch on Daredevil.
issue #49's tagline is: "You never thought it would happen…" A lot
of people never thought you'd out Matt's secret ID. What's left?
As promised when I revealed his identity, there will be no easy
way out and no easy answers, but it does come to a head in issue
#50 which I am happy to announce will feature a special scene illustrated
by the great names of Daredevil past: Gene Colan, John Romita
Sr, John Romita Jr, Quesada, David Mack, Lee Weeks, and Klaus Janson.
All wrapped in an Alex Maleev bow, its really going to be something.
I love anniversary issues with cool shit in them.
Backing up on the current storyline ("Hardcore") a little then -
in some ways, it feels like you handling the Kingpin's return is
you finally getting to write the mob story you wanted to write -
a superhuman Brando comes back from the dead in Godfather
to mete out revenge… how long have you been building to this particular
Since I got on the book.
warning for Daredevil #46
Okay, now explain a little here. For years there was the odd honor/trust/hate
relationship between Matt Murdock and Kingpin in that he knew who
Matt was, and there was an uneasy détente between them. Now, the
Kingpin's empire ruined due to his knowledge of Daredevil's secret
identity, in a sense, he's out to kill him. Wouldn't Wilson would
have some odd sense of honor that would force him to keep his hands
off of Matt, since all of Matt's current suffering is kinda his
fault, but not directly caused by him? Why does the Kingpin have
the mad on for Matt?
Right now all Wilson is doing is using or destroying anything in
his way. He is in full out "Survivor: Kingpin" mode.
Fair enough, but at the same time, well, it's almost a running theme
in Matt's life, but here he is, taking up with another woman, a.k.a
"red shirt." How much longer will Milla be around? After all, isn't
Matt's general unhappiness/tragedy one of the things that keeps
him rolling? What happens to Daredevil if Matt's allowed to be happy?
Ah, good question, see issue #49.
Okay then, in that same regard, knowing that his enemies think he
is Daredevil and that Kingpin is back - isn't Matt being selfish
in not forcing Milla away in that Disney movie sense where the wild
animal follows the kid home, and they have to throw rocks at it
to get it to go away?
Well, in real life, I have yet to meet a man who has ever pushed
a woman away from him. Trust me, all this will be dealt with.
David Mack comes onboard to write an arc after issue #50. What roads
are you going to go down once you come back after David?
I am so excited about our new path, there's really nothing I can
say about it that wouldn't spoil the next few issues, but I will
say that David's arc is gorgeous. It's breathtaking.
Okay, but then why are you taking a break from Daredevil
in the first place? Going from the Ultimate X-Men stuff,
one could get the idea that David is coming on as a test run, and
then we'll be talking about him being the new regular Daredevil
writer. Are you still planning on staying with Daredevil
for a hella long time from here?
Yeah, we're staying. Daredevil is so important to me, it
really is. Alex and I have more stories to tell.
wanted to do a sequel to his Echo story. He's one of my best friends
on the planet, and he is the reason I have the job in the first
place, so it is with glee that I step aside for this, it comes at
a great time because that's about when Alex would need a break anyhow.
Also, it gives me time to work on secret projects and Ultimate
has new Kabuki coming out so this arc is a one time deal,
but I tell you if he wanted back on the book, I would gladly step
aside, well, not gladly, but that's what I would tell him…
Okay, wrapping up our round robin touches on all your Marvel projects,
let's talk Alias. The upcoming story arc that starts in issue
#24, "Purple" is described as one of the darkest chapters in Marvel
history, dealing with Jessica Jones' final days as the costumed
hero, Jewel. Okay - it's dark - how so?
You know how in X-Files they always promised an answer and
they never gave it? At the end of Purple you will have everything,
including the Jewel comic marvel never published by Bagley,
with sequences by Rick Mays, and guest stars out the hoo hah.
Alright, but if it was anywhere else but Alias, I'd expect
a rather humdrum reason for a hero deciding to stop their career,
but this is Alias. So what gives? Iron Man felt her
up in the back room? Thor asked her to try and lift his "hammer?"
Ah shit, now I have to go rewrite it [laughter]. No, no. So far
no one has guessed it. And the hints are all over the book.
But as she is today, Jessica redefines tough as nails. "Purple"
then shows us a Jessica prior to being the tough girl she is now
- a more vulnerable Jessica?
Read it and see.
Finally - this question comes up every time you take on a new gig,
but c'mon - how much can you handle a month? Do you have room, scheduling
wise for all of this, or will the addition of Ultimate X-Men
require some rejigging of your work schedule?
Well, the X-Men run will last about a year as we all prepare
for the next regular writer who is on deck, who is an insanely excellent
choice. No one will guess who it is and I couldn't be more excited
So though my
commitment to Ultimate X-Men is sturdy and will be a complete
run with all my energy and efforts, with art team intact for the
whole run, which is something I think a lot of readers, including
myself, really appreciate in their monthly comics, it is temporary
in comparison to Spider-Man, Alias, Daredevil, and Powers,
which is unmoving at the moment.
The good news
is that I am still very much ahead on all my books giving me plenty
of room to write whatever I am passionate about that day and not
worry about deadlines which I think is key to what a lot of people
like about what is going on in the books. The break in Daredevil
is a big one giving a lot of room for other goodies.
I am so grateful
to everyone for giving me these opportunities, its nice to come
by here and give all these little surprises we have planned back
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